Philadelphia: Rocky, Cheesesteaks, And An Under The Radar Biking Paradise.

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Hey WTB Graveliers - Mark from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania here! When someone thinks of "Philly," a few things typically come to mind: American history, Eagles, cheesesteaks, and Rocky. While all of these things are true, there is another side of Philly that I've fallen in love with over the past few years - the variety of riding and the community of cyclists.

Philadelphia is situated on the East coast and is centrally located among great things, such as the mountains, the shore/beach and other major cities! This is great for an active junky like myself who enjoys the four seasons of sports (ski, surf, bike, hike, run) and they're all accessible within an hour or more drive.

Philly offers all of the perks of a big city and great riding - I am able to saddle up on my bike and ride for hours from my doorstep via the Schuylkill River Trail (SRT) or on the roads! When I first started riding in 2015, I joined a local club, and they took me on roads beyond the city limits with a mid-ride grocery store refuel stop. Fast forward to 2020...I've fallen in love with exploring the rural roads miles out of the city, including destinations like New Hope and Valley Forge. As I exit the city's bike-lane stripped roads to the two-lane no shoulder countryside, I am constantly captivated by the picturesque landscape, peaceful nature, and beautiful homes. Nowadays, my ride is not complete without a stop for a doughnut, almond croissant, or cookie. There is no shortage of delicious options!

Mountain bikes are welcome, too! Philly offers much more than just road riding. Within a few miles from Center City, there are several trail systems to shred-the-gnar. Philadelphia is home to Belmont Trails and Wissahickon Park that connect over 20 miles of trails in the city and is perfect for an afternoon shred or a weekend in the woods. I started mountain biking last year and fell head over heels, literally and figuratively, for the challenge and joy of riding in the woods! After getting past the punchy hills and climbs, the downhill sections are fast and fun. I've had great luck with the WTB Ranger 29ers, and they've handled everything that I've put them through. If you want downhill action, we have local ski areas that open in the summer.

Did someone say gravel? Philly also has access to gravely roads, whether on the bike path or in the rural areas outside of the city. Routes with an 80/20 road/gravel ratio are becoming more and more common as riders take on bigger tires with more volume. My gravel bike has WTB Exposure 34s, which provides a smooth center patch for the road and knobs on the sidewalls for the mixed surface sections. For
20/80 road/gravel rides, a short trip to Central PA has it all - the gravel, the climbs, and the views, and Resolute 42s get me through it worry free!

As the local gravel scene is growing, so are the communities that promote and support them! Since starting to ride gravel events last year, I have been blown away by the support and care at every event. To name a few that I love participating in: (1) the Kermesse Sport Spring Series, which offers rides inspired by the tour with no shortage of elevation and sections of gravel; (2) unPAved attracts eager gravel grinders to the small town of Lewisburg to take on the hills; (3) Lu Lacka Wyco Hundo is an early season mixed surface ride that challenges riders through a lot of climbing and non-tarmac sections.

I welcome you to come to check out Philadelphia for your next trip! If you come in the fall, check out the Philly Bike Expo and make a weekend trip out of it! Bring your favorite bike, and you won't be disappointed. After a day worth of riding, you can be a tourist, get a cheesesteak, and enjoy the city atmosphere!

Ride on and keep the rubber side down!
Mark Yanagisawa

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